Authorities in Turkey announced Saturday that they have arrested three suspected Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) jihadis, including a 26-year-old Belgian of Moroccan origin, with possible ties to last week’s attacks in Paris.
According to Turkish news agency Anadolu, authorities say they have arrested two Syrians and a Belgian near Antalya in southern Turkey and are holding them on charges of aiding and abetting terrorist activities.
The Belgian Islamist Ahmet Dahmani is suspected of having performed reconnaissance around the city of Paris prior to the November 13 attacks, scouting out the venues where the terrorists wished to hit. He was reportedly en route to Syria when taken in Turkey.
Officials arrested Dahmani at the luxury hotel where he was staying in Turkish territory. According to preliminary reports, the other two accomplices, Ahmet Tahir, 29, and Mohammed Verd, 23, were to accompany Dahmani to ensure his safe arrival into Syria but were arrested in a car along a highway crossing south Turkey.
Counterterrorism units reportedly detected Dahmani’s presence when he arrived on a flight to Antalya.
Earlier, the Turkish authorities processed and deported a group of eight Moroccans arrested at Istanbul’s main airport for alleged links to the Islamic State. The Moroccans said they had arrived to Ataturk Airport on Tuesday night from Casablanca for a holiday. They were stopped by border police, interrogated, processed as suspected ISIS militants, and then expelled from the country, according to a Turkish government official.
Meanwhile, Brussels has raised its security alert level to the maximum (four), closing subway lines and postponing soccer matches due to a “grave and imminent” threat of attack.
On Friday evening, the 15 members of the Security Council adopted a resolution drafted by France calling on all member states of the United Nations to join in the fight against terrorists, “employing all necessary measures.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.